Prague Fringe bringing Czech acts to global audiences for first time

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Normally the Prague Fringe brings leading alternative theatre troupes from around the planet to the Czech capital. From Tuesday to Saturday, however, it is doing something else entirely – streaming cutting-edge Czech performers to viewers around the globe, for free. I discussed “Prague Fringe Reimagined” with the festival’s founder, Steve Gove.

“This is going to be a Fringe unlike any other that we’ve ever had.

“Normally we invite theatre companies from around the world to Prague.

“And this time we are presenting Czech theatres to the world, via the live streaming option.

“It’s totally different. We’ve never done anything like this in our lives before – it’s a very odd experience for us.”

Steve Gove,  photo: Miroslav Romaniv

You’re presenting eight of the best alternative acts that the Czech Republic has to offer. Is there any particular company that’s involved who you’re thrilled to have on board?

“Well of course it’s exciting for us to present any Czech works – normally we present only work from overseas.

“But I’m especially excited to have the theatre company Divadlo Líšeň from Brno come through.

“We didn’t know their work at all and weren’t even aware of them, but when we set up the application process two or three months ago their work looked so brilliant that we just thought, We have to include it.

“Actually we’ve got two shows by them.

“They’re opening the festival today with a show called Savitri, which is based on an Indian tale from the Mahabharata.

Divadlo Líšeň - 'Savitri',  photo: archive of Prague Fringe festival

“It’s puppet theatre, it looks gorgeous and we’re super excited that this is happening.”

Given that the performers are all Czech, how are you getting around the language issue?

“Some of it will be non-verbal; some of the performances are non-verbal or have very little chat.

“But we do have subtitles for everything, so it’s international friendly.

“So subtitles will appear on the screen as the performances are taking place live in the theatre in Prague.”

How are you reaching potential audiences around the world?

“We have quite an international following anyway – lots of people who visit the Fringe, who usually come in May, will be following.

“But we’ve actually connected with a lot of the Czech Centres around Europe, as well as some of them in other parts of the world.

“Given the opening show, the Indian tale, we’ve connected with the Czech Embassy in New Delhi and they’re helping us to promote it.

Divadlo Líšeň - 'Bound by Grass',  photo: archive of Prague Fringe festival

“So there will be all sorts of interest around the globe.”

Will these events only take place once and be available only that one time for people who are watching online in the moment? Or will they be available somehow afterwards?

“Yes, they will be available afterwards as well.

“We are encouraging people, where possible and if the time zone allows, to tune in live, because then it’s a real shared experience with the performers and other viewers.

“But of course if it’s 4 o’clock in the morning wherever you are and you want to catch up later, that’s not a problem.

“All of the performances will be available on the Prague Fringe website until the middle of December at least.”